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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Tropical Storm Barry Will Test New Orleans Levee System; Trump Confirms Immigration Raids Will Begin Sunday; U.S. Vice President Tours Detention Centers in Texas; Hong Kong Protests; Epstein Paid $350,000 To Potential Witnesses Against Him; Intel Chief under Fire. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

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CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

Tropical storm Barry spinning off the Gulf Coast as it makes landfall, it could well be a hurricane. Over a foot of rain is possible in some areas with winds holding at 65 miles per hour and a storm surge rising as high as six feet. Some highways are already swamped and tens of thousands of customers have already lost power.

PAUL: Louisiana is really getting ready here. They're closing all of the floodgates, all of them, as the mayor of New Orleans calls for voluntary evacuations. Federal emergency preparedness officials are warning there are possible tornadoes as this storm passes. Mississippi's governor has joined Louisiana's in declaring a state of emergency already.

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PAUL: We do have a team of reporters out ahead of the storm as well. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman live in New Orleans, CNN correspondent Natasha Chen live in Morgan City, Louisiana.

Good morning to both of you.

I want to start with you, Natasha.

What are you experiencing right now?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are expecting to see this hurricane make landfall just west of us later this morning. We are already feeling the rain bands and heavier gusts of wind. Right now --

[05:05:00] CHEN: -- we know that certain parts of town seem to have lost power. I talked to some residents who said that they were gathering at hotels or places they could see where the lights are still on because their generators back at home may or may not be working at the moment.

We are preparing for the worst yet to come. Right now, the mayor is most concerned about the flooding not so much about the wind gusts. But as you all were just discussing, this is about how fast and how much the city's pumps can handle.

They have seven pumps right now in Morgan City. That's after they brought in extra yesterday. They're expecting about 10 to 20 inches over the course of three days. As long as that comes in waves, as long as there are breaks between the heavier bands of rain, they have a fighting chance to be able to pump this out.

But if those 10 to 20 inches come all at once, they're going to be in trouble.

PAUL: All right, Natasha, take good care of yourself there. We can hear the wind kicking up as she's there.

SAVIDGE: Joining us from New Orleans, CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman.

Gary, you've been through many of these before but New Orleans is a very special place with a history that haunts many people when weather turns like this, right?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Martin. For generations New Orleans, Louisiana, has been scarred by hurricanes and tropical storms. As much as 14 summers ago, a horrible time period here in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came through, killing hundreds.

Tropical storm Barry or maybe hurricane Barry in a couple of hours is no Hurricane Katrina, let's attest to that. But the dangers are unknown at this point. We stand right now in the French Quarter, where all the tourists come when they come to New Orleans. This is Jackson Square. Behind me is the Mississippi River.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina, where you had massive levee failures that led to disaster, the concern is that the levels of the Mississippi River can rise too high from the rains that are starting to come now, will continue to come throughout the day.

The flood walls along the Mississippi River could hold 20 feet of water. Because of flooding over the past weeks and months, the Mississippi River currently is at 16.5 feet, a very high level. The thought was just as recently as yesterday that it could go to 19.5, close to 20 feet.

Right now, the past couple of hours, we've gotten the latest report that the feeling is the levels won't go as high as they thought not because there's not going to be a lot of rain, there is, but that it will be spread out over a long period of time. The thought is the levels may not go over 17.5 feet which is very good news.

Talking about the floodgates, I'm on top of a flood wall. I will walk gingerly to one of the floodgates to give you a look at what the gates look like. This here is a floodgate. It was shut last night. This area of Jackson Square, you can no longer go out. There's no one out here. They want everybody to be careful, to be away from the water.

Water-pumping plants are open near Lake Pontchartrain to pump the water back into Lake Pontchartrain, back into the Gulf of Mexico ultimately. And also levees have been improved since Hurricane Katrina hit. The levees are much stronger.

That is what I mentioned at the beginning, the massive failures, literally levees split apart, one chunk on the 17th Street canal, one of the largest canals in New Orleans, a 450-foot piece of wall split off.

The water plunged through and that helped contribute to the hundreds of deaths here in New Orleans. New Orleans, Louisiana, is very lively and crowded every night. It was just a Friday night. It's still Friday to some people. But it was very quiet as everyone awaits the arrival of Barry. Martin, back to you.

SAVIDGE: Gary, real quick, the mayor there of New Orleans put out an order basically for people to shelter in place; in other words, not to evacuate.

Did that cause any controversy there?

TUCHMAN: Right. There was no practical way to tell people to evacuate and get out because it was so quick that the warnings came. It hasn't caused any controversy. Some people have left but most have sheltered in place, they have been told this is not going to be the huge wind event that Katrina or other hurricanes are.

Most people are not panicking. They're certainly concerned because of what happened 14 years ago but everyone is being very wary, very careful but feel ultimately and the city is telling them it's likely they'll end up being safe, too, and that's what we hope.

PAUL: You know, Gary, Ryan Young spoke with someone in the Ninth Ward yesterday who said they would only leave if God told them to do so. In other words, they weren't taking this storm particularly seriously.

Listening to what Allison just said, that the strongest bands, this is kind of a storm that's in reverse as we know from a conventional either hurricane or tropical storm, usually the northeast bands are the ones that are the strongest. She's saying according to what they know --

[05:10:00]

PAUL: -- the south bands are going to be the most potent.

Is there concern there that people will get complacent, that they will think, OK, it's passed, there's nothing left to worry about? TUCHMAN: There's certainly the possibility that people could get complacent because this is going to last for a long time. But because of CNN, because of the local TV stations, because of all the media coverage, because of Twitter, because of Facebook, everyone knows what's going on.

There's no one we talked to who isn't aware that this is not going to be the wind event of other hurricanes but it is going to be a massive rain event. They have to be careful and they have the history here to know they have to be careful. Very little complacency is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana.

SAVIDGE: All right. You be careful, too, Gary. We'll check back with you regularly. Thank you so much.

PAUL: You and the crew, take good care there.

Listen, hundreds of people are in the streets protesting President Trump's upcoming migrant raids. Look at this picture out of Colorado. How one mother is planning to stay hidden when ICE comes to her city tomorrow.

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SAVIDGE: I don't know if you saw them where you live but overnight demonstrators across the country took to the streets, protesting upcoming U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on migrant families.

PAUL: Those are some of the cities we saw yesterday. We anticipate there will be more today. This morning, thousands of families on edge. The raids are set to begin tomorrow. They're targeting nine cities across the country. A U.S. official says --

[05:15:00]

PAUL: -- they're focusing on families who already have court orders to be removed. An ICE spokesman said, quote, "ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security."

In Chicago, after being given just months to stay in the United States, a migrant mother has been seeking sanctuary inside a church for the past two years, mind you. She says she will anxiously be watching tomorrow's ICE raids.

SAVIDGE: CNN's Rosa Flores has the moving story.

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ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Francisca Lino has lived in Chicago for some 20 years. She's the mom of four U.S. citizens who she raised in the out outskirts of town, but for the past two years, Lino has lived inside a church, away from her family and hoping to not be deported.

Lino who is undocumented said she gets in a panic thinking about getting pulled away and stashed in overcrowded detention facilities she's seen on the news. She took sanctuary in this church, a place federal agents avoid raiding.

(on camera): Do you have a plan if there is a raid here in the church?

FRANCISCA LINO, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: No. FLORES (voice-over): But now, she's worried that it could all come to

an end this weekend, when planned ICE raids in cities across the country, including Chicago, are set to begin.

For more than a decade, a time span covering administrations of both parties, Lino checked in with immigration officials twice a year and there was never any issue, until Donald Trump took office. CNN was there in 2017 the morning of her first check-in during the Trump era.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It brings me a lot of fear.

FLORES: It was an emotional affair for her entire family. First an immigration agent told her she could stay for another year.

LINO (through translator): I feel very happy because I was given another year.

FLORES: And then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, cameras away from the building.

FLORES: -- her joy turned to heart break when she was asked to return to the federal building in four months with her bags packed and a one- way ticket out of the country. Her daughter became physically ill.

(on camera) : You were having a panic attack upstairs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I couldn't breathe. I was choked up. I couldn't talk.

FLORES: Lino says that's what hurts her the most, about being hunkered down the last couple of years. It is not being able to simply hug her daughters out side of this church, especially when they needed their mom and that is something she may never do again on U.S. soil come this weekend -- Rosa Flores, CNN.

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PAUL: Rosa Flores, thank you very much for that reporting.

Last night, Chicago Mayor Lightfoot responded to the proposed ICE raids, saying this, quote, "We are all aware of the threat from President Trump regarding raids by ICE and, in response, Chicago has taken concrete steps to support our immigrant communities.

"Further, I reiterate that CBP will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions. Chicago will always be a welcoming city and a champion for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities and I encourage any resident in need of legal aid to contact the National Immigrant Justice Center," unquote.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, you can mark it as a win for President Trump. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DOJ, the Department of Justice, can give preference to certain U.S. cities that would use grant money on illegal immigration.

A panel of judges argued that the DOJ didn't pressure an applicant to cooperate on immigration matters; rather, they only encouraged participation.

PAUL: This stems from a lawsuit from the City of Los Angeles. They claim the city did not receive funding from a grant program after they chose to focus on building trust between communities and law enforcement agencies with no mention of illegal immigration because of its policy as a sanctuary city.

SAVIDGE: Our top story this hour -- tropical storm Barry is now just off the Gulf Coast, threatening to pack hurricane-force winds when it makes landfall. Erica Hill is in Lafayette, Louisiana.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning. So we are just about to give you a sense of where we are, about two hours west of New Orleans. This is going to be a very important place because as you know a major concern is flooding. Stationed here, high water vehicles, boats, for those rescues.

Why could they be needed?

More on that ahead after this break.

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PAUL: It's 22 minutes past the hour. Good morning to you. Tropical storm Barry barreling toward the Gulf Coast right now. Maximum sustained winds, 65 miles per hour. It is expected to be a hurricane when it makes landfall.

We're talking about dangerous storm surge, heavy rains, wind conditions. Those are the biggest threats thus far this morning. And there's a live picture for you. I believe that's off Lake Pontchartrain.

SAVIDGE: Officials in St. Mary Parish is expecting 10 to 20 inches of rain the next three days. Already more than 48,000 are without power across the state. We want to go straight to CNN's Erica Hill, in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Good morning to you.

HILL: Good morning. Lafayette really important as we talk about what could happen not only during but after the storm because there's so much of a focus on flooding.

As you have been talking about throughout the morning, this is a very large storm, it is slow moving and there is more on the back side. One of the areas that they're specifically concerned about is St. Mary's Parish, as you mentioned. Vermilion River which runs through Lafayette wasn't initially as much of a concern for officials here because it is currently below its normal levels.

Last night we heard some differing things from the sheriff's department, saying now they are a little bit more concerned about the river here, concerned that, with all of the rain that is coming, it could, in fact, increase the levels here in that river. That could then continue to flow down river. That's one of the concerns that could affect places south.

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[05:25:00]

HILL: To reiterate, one of the reasons we are in Lafayette is because so much is staged here. Boats, high water vehicles, buses, as well. When those rescues are needed, they can launch from here and bring people once they've been evacuated to ideally meet up with friends and family in other areas.

I want to go to Natasha Chen in Morgan City, a major focus and where I believe some of the 48,000 customers without power are located now as well.

CHEN: That's right. We're seeing that parts of town, their lights have flickered off as we were getting to the seawall location where we are.

You were talking about the saturation and the fact that the Mississippi River has been at flood stage already for so long, as Barry comes in. Where we are standing is the top of a staircase, we're at the bottom and it's too dark to show now. There is water over the bottom few steps.

We can see that the river has covered trash cans and benches where people normally are able to walk out there and sit. So think of that situation, then add on this tropical storm, possibly hurricane, that is going to make landfall later today.

Now as of yesterday, they were doing voluntary evacuations for people in town. But so far as I could see, I don't see too many that we've talked to who decided to leave town. There are some people who have decided to go to a hotel so that there is potentially a better chance to have power. But they are definitely prepared for the fact that streets may flood.

This is a place that's expecting 10 to 20 inches of rain with seven pumps, that's already after additional ones were brought in, seven pumps to try and get all of this water out throughout the day.

What they are concerned about is that these pumps can handle the first five inches of rain and then one inch per hour. If they get the 10 to 20 all at once, they're going to be in some serious trouble.

HILL: That is a big concern. The sustained rates that it could be there for such a long time.

[05:30:00]

HILL: You talk about the people who decided to stay; as we know, we always hear if you are staying, you need to make sure you have three days' worth of food and water.

In terms of preparation, did you get the sense that they were preparing, that they did have those supplies stocked and ready were they to be stuck in their homes for potentially days on end?

CHEN: I haven't spoken to too many people about what they actually prepared. The one person that we ran into in the middle of the night here as we're coming out to do these reports said he was actually hanging out at the hotel because there was no power at home and the generator had stopped working.

It sounds like people have generators, that they prepared for the possibility of going without power for a little while. The emergency management folks that we saw yesterday said they are just waiting for Monday because, as long as this rainfall estimate that they're getting is over the course of three days, they say they may have a fighting chance to avoid the worst of this.

Of course, like you said earlier, we are expecting this storm to make landfall west of us. So Morgan City may really be in the thick of it.

HILL: We'll keep an eye on it. Natasha, thank you. We will continue to keep you updated.

Christi, back to you.

PAUL: Thank you. Take good care, you and your crews there.

In some other news, it was a tale of two migrant border facilities, one air conditioned with children watching movies, eating snacks; the other with hundreds of migrant men, look at this, crowded into a sweltering area, reportedly without showers for 40 days.

Vice president Mike Pence toured both of these, then sat down with CNN to answer questions about the alarming conditions.

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SAVIDGE: I don't know if you've seen this yet but a disturbing scene at a migrant detention facility that Vice President Mike Pence toured Friday, a holding area packed with hundreds of men, some who say they have been there for 40 days without access to showers or toothbrushes.

PAUL: Reporters on the tour, this is in McAllen, Texas, by the way, said the stench was nearly overwhelming, especially in the stifling hot room. Our Pamela Brown sat down with vice president Pence after this tour and asked him about the conditions that the migrants are being held in. Here's what he said.

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PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You went to two different facilities today and there seemed to be a big difference between the first one, where the families were being housed, and the one here, where there are single adult migrants.

When I went in there, one of them said to me, I'm talking about the second facility, this isn't human, the way we're treated. There was a horrible smell, I'm sure you smelled it. You were in there as well.

They were sleeping on concrete because there is not enough room for cots we're told. It was hot. Some of them claim that they were hungry.

Is that acceptable to you?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it is not. And it is the reason why we demanded that Congress provide $4.6 billion in additional support to Customs and Border Protection.

Look, for the last six months, Democrats in Congress have been saying that this is a manufactured crisis. But as you saw firsthand today, here at McAllen station, where our cells are overflowing and how that temporary facility that you just saw had to be established.

And then the first facility that we saw, where nearly 1,000 families with children are being detained, ought to be a very clear message to every American that the time for action is now and the time for Congress to act, to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border, is now.

BROWN: Should there be a different level of care for the families versus the adult migrants, single adult migrants?

PENCE: I think it is all the same standard of care --

BROWN: But what we saw today was very different for the families versus the single --

PENCE: -- well, what you saw today was a very clean facility, where people were being detained indoors and then you saw a temporary facility that was constructed because this facility is overcrowded. And we can't keep people in a cell beyond what the rules and regulations allow for.

But everyone even in that temporary facility, Pamela, is getting three meals a day, they are getting health care, they're getting hygiene. And the Customs and Border Protection is doing their level best in an overcrowded environment and a difficult environment to address this issue.

But Congress has got to act to make it possible for us to reduce the numbers of people coming into our country illegally. And that will require us to change the loopholes, reform our asylum laws. And my hope is today --

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PENCE: -- I hope two things today, Pamela. I hope first and foremost, that we put to the lie this slander against Customs and Border Protection. People saying that families and children are being held in concentration camps is an outrage.

And the Nazis killed people. Our Customs and Border Protection, as you heard today, are saving lives every day. And you saw the profound, compassionate care for those families and children in the detention facility today.

But the other thing is, I hope we also move past this rhetoric about a manufactured crisis. I mean, the president wanted me to come down here today to look in on how families are treated but also to be able to show the American people that this system is overwhelmed, it is overcrowded and Congress has got to step up to end this crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border.

BROWN: The first facility we went to with the families, was that really a fair representation of how most of the migrant families have been treated under CBP care?

PENCE: You are at the epicenter here in the Rio Grande Valley of this crisis of illegal immigration; 60 percent of those being detained coming across our southern border are coming through this sector. So I think what we saw today was a very fair representation of how families are being treated.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: -- this was one of them --

PENCE: I understand America's in trouble --

BROWN: -- made to handle the overcrowding.

PENCE: Americans are troubled by what they have read in the newspapers --

(CROSSTALK) BROWN: All you have to do is look at pictures like this.

When you look at that, what do you see?

PENCE: Well, I can't account for that. What I can account for is that --

BROWN: But you're the vice president.

How can you not account for this?

PENCE: It is a facility that you saw today represents the level --

[05:40:00]

PENCE: -- and the standard of care that we are working to bring to all those caught up in this crisis.

But remember it was just a few short weeks ago that Congress finally acknowledged the crisis and gave us an additional $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid.

Now we're going to continue to improve, we'll continue to provide care at the standard the American people expect. But Pamela, remember for the last six months, Democrats in Congress said it was a manufactured crisis. And it was all we could do to finally get the Democrats in Congress to agree to give us additional funding to deal with this crisis.

And so we'll continue to provide the level of care the American people expect and we'll do it with compassion and with the generosity. But ultimately we have got to demand that Congress take the next step, reform these asylum laws, close the loopholes and end this unprecedented migration.

BROWN: DHS IG says that some children under this administration's watch didn't have access to showers or hot meals.

Does the administration take any responsibility for that?

Democrats are not in the White House.

Where does the buck stop?

PENCE: Yes. We read those reports and I know that they are being --

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: -- thoroughly investigated. I know that we're also -- there were also lawyers who were here who presented what ultimately became unsubstantiated allegations. But make no mistake about it, any allegation of people not receiving the standard of care that the American people anticipate is thoroughly investigated. The recent allegations of abuse are being thoroughly investigated.

But what you saw today I hope is an encouragement to millions of Americans that, even before Congress funded a temporary facility, we built that temporary facility to house families who are caught up in this crisis of illegal immigration.

And you saw not just three meals a day, children with snacks, there were diapers, hygiene products, changing tables, children sitting in a comfortable, air conditioned environment, watching television.

This is how the American people expect us to treat people who are caught up in this crisis. And we're going to continue to work to make that a reality.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: We'll have more of that interview for you later.

Meanwhile, back to our top story here. Tropical storm Barry, now just off the Gulf Coast. Erica Hill in Lafayette, Louisiana, for us.

HILL: Christi, we are just starting to feel little drops of rain here. As the meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Center in New Orleans said, this is a slow-moving storm. We'll get a better sense of what he means by that and what we should all be prepared for when he joins us after the break.

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[05:45:00]

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PAUL: Edging toward the 6:00 am hour in the east and tropical storm Barry is intensifying this hour. It's inching toward the Louisiana coast and there's still the possibility that it could become a hurricane before it makes landfall. That is happening sometime in the next few hours.

SAVIDGE: Barry expected to bring damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail. But the real concern is heavy rain, possibly more than a foot in some areas. And that, of course, could cause dangerous flooding, not just in Louisiana but also in Mississippi and Alabama and beyond.

Let's go back to Erica Hill, she's in Lafayette, Louisiana, for us this morning.

HILL: Yes, good morning again. And as you point out, it's the size of this, it's how long the rain could last and just how far inland it could go. And then once all that rain comes down, it could flow back down the Mississippi, which is already swollen, as we know, leading to flooding.

We want to call on one of the experts, Benjamin Schott, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in New Orleans. Ben, we appreciate you taking the time this morning. You just tweeted

this is a very slow-moving storm, slow with at least six zeros, I think you put in that. You know, maybe giving people a chuckle. But you were serious about the impact of what that means.

Why is the fact that this is a slow-moving storm such a concern?

BEN SCHOTT, NOAA METEOROLOGIST: The big concern is it's going to take a very long time for it move across the state of Louisiana. With that intense tropical rainfall over a 24-hour period, it will easily allow the 1 foot or more that we've been forecasting for a number of days now.

HILL: And as you're watching this, what are some of the areas at this hour that are most concerning to you?

SCHOTT: Well, the number one thing now is that we're still waiting for this to make landfall. There's a lot of impatience of where is Barry, where is Barry. And so it's coming. And the heavy rainfall will be there. And so folks can't let their guard down. They have to understand that as this moves in, the rainfall --

[05:50:00]

SCHOTT: -- rates are going to be extremely high, flooding is going to occur with flash flooding quickly.

It's going to put people at risk all across, you know, southeastern Louisiana, into portions of the central portion of the state. By the time we get to midday, the rivers will respond. And we'll have some places that will see, you know, major, record flooding, I believe, by the time we're all finished with this Sunday into Monday.

HILL: Sunday into Monday, by the time we're finished with that portion of it. And we've been talking about this morning, that it's the south side of the storm that has some of the heaviest rain coming with it.

SCHOTT: Yes. That's what's been kind of, I think, gotten people to think that where's Barry. You know, this is kind of a little bit unusual. A lot of times you see more of the activity centered on the east side and wrapping around to the north.

In this case, a lot of it's been held offshore with the very slow movement. And so as it comes on shore over the course of the next 6- 12 hours, obviously we'll have the wind issue close to the center of the circulation. Power outages, coastal flooding will continue, as well as you get all the water piling up on the coast and Lake Pontchartrain and other places.

But the rainfall is the number one threat and the flooding will last a number of days that almost all of the citizens of Louisiana, especially in southeast Louisiana, toward Baton Rouge, we'll all be fighting a flood fight for the next few days.

HILL: You know, having covered a number of these, obviously you're based in New Orleans. When you talk to people, they will harken back to certain storms and how they weathered it, what happened. That really influences the decision that they make for whatever storm it is.

Today we're, of course, talking about Barry. And yet each storm is different. Just remind our viewers why it's important to look at this as a new event and not necessarily think so much about what happened in the last storm that somebody may have decided to ride out in their home.

SCHOTT: Yes, people tend to lock onto something they've experienced in the past. Each one of these tropical systems are its own animal. They each have their own individual threats that could threaten life.

In this case, it's going to be the water, it's going to be the rainfall. Sometimes people get so focused in on whether it a tropical storm or whether it's a hurricane and the main threat may be the water. And that's been proven time and time again.

Over 75 percent of deaths occur from the water, a lot of it, the fresh water, the rain and the river flooding afterwards. You look at the events of Harvey and Florence and you see that this pattern, when you have slow-moving tropical systems come in and they drop intense amounts of rainfall in short timeframes, it's the water.

That is what catches people off guard because a lot of times, again, they focus so in on the wind and the category, whether it a category 1 or whether it's a tropical storm.

So the biggest takeaway is people to understand that the rain is just now starting. It's all going come down in the next 24 to 36 hours, depending on how slow Barry moves and it's going to be the water that's the issue.

HILL: Ben Schott, appreciate you taking the time. Appreciate all the work you and your team are doing at the National Weather Service in New Orleans. Thank you so much.

SCHOTT: Thank you. Thank you very much.

HILL: As we heard, the rain's just starting. It is start to intensify a little bit here. This is the outer part of it. We'll continue to keep you updated from here in Lafayette and across the region as we continue our coverage this morning. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: All right. Thank you so much. Be careful there.

New video coming in to CNN in the last few minutes from Hong Kong. Take a look at this. Police have been using pepper spray on protesters in a clash near the border with Mainland China. We'll have more coming up.

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SAVIDGE (voice-over): Take a look at this. This happened just a short time ago. A violent clash between protesters and Hong Kong police as another round of demonstrations sweep across the Chinese territory. This video was taken as protesters neared Hong Kong's border with Mainland China. You see police have been using pepper spray on the demonstrators.

PAUL (voice-over): The protests began last month over a controversial bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to Mainland China to face. Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, said this week the bill's dead.

But protesters are concerned it could be brought back up for consideration.

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PAUL: We'll keep you posted on what's happening there this morning.

Also, federal prosecutors say Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire charged with sex trafficking, paid $350,000 to two people who could potentially testify against him in a trial.

SAVIDGE: The hedge fund manager is accused of operating a sex trafficking ring involving underage girls between 2002 and 2005. This week, Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to court documents, he began making payments in November of last year after "The Miami Herald" published an article on him and the 2008 non-prosecution agreement he reached in Florida. Both the individuals were named as possible co-conspirators in the non- prosecution agreement.

Meanwhile, President Trump is once again considering removing Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence.

PAUL: The president has expressed frustration with Coats in the past and has periodically considered replacing him. In February during a congressional hearing, Coats publicly contradicted the president's optimistic forecast about the chances North Korea would agree to give up its nuclear weapons.

Coats has dismissed the reports and the rumors calling them frustrating.

So lawmakers are getting more time to question Robert Mueller after agreeing to delay the former special counsel's public testimony.

SAVIDGE: Mueller was scheduled to appear in back-to-back sessions before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees July 17th. But some lawmakers complained about the limited time of testimony, which would have shut out half the panel from asking questions of Mueller. Both sessions are now scheduled for Wednesday, July 24.

PAUL: All right.

Want to get back to just one of the stories, the big stories we're watching this morning.

Good morning to you, so grateful to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

Tropical storm Barry now spinning --